New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 26, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
State still working to define ‘classroom instruction
By Melissa Johnson
In the wake of Gov. Rick Perry’s executive order that 65 percent of district budgets be spent on classroom instruction, legislators and district employees are speculating which items will fall under those parameters.
State Rep. Edmund Kuem-pel said whether districts are able to meet the 65 percent quota will largely depend on the definition of the term.
Commissioner of Education Shirley J. Neeley and an appointed task force of superintendents and multiple advisory committees will meet Sept. 7 at the TEA offices in Austin to discuss what the category should include.
TEA Spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said the task force will begin with the National Center for Education Statistics’s definition — which describes classroom spending as “direct instruction of students in any form.”
Included in the definition are classroom teacher and instructional aide salaries, general instructional supplies and activities such as field trips, athletics, music and art.
Expenditures falling outside the definition include administration salaries, operation and maintenance, food services, transportation, librarians, nurses, counselors and teachers training and curriculum.
“That is the NCES definition,” Culbertson said. “That is not to say that this is what the Texas definition will be. We’re using their definition as a starting point.”
Perry’s order will be phased in over the next four years to
“It's not like this is going to be a sudden jolt. Most of them are already > spending all of that * or more."
— Jeff Wentworth
give districts time to adjust their budgets. Neeley said beginning this year, districts will have to spend at least half of their funding on classroom instruction.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth said the 65 percent quota should not pose a problem for Texas districts, who on average already spend about 52 cents of every dollar on classroom instruction.
“Its not like this is going to be a sudden jolt,” Wentworth said. “Most of them are already spending all of that or more.”
The percentage will increase by 5 percent each following year until the 65 percent cap is reached in 2008-09.
In response to districts’ concerns over whether 35 percent would be enough to cover transportation, school lunches and other costs that would fall under nonclassroom expenditures, Wentworth said the four-year incremental schedule should allow districts enough time to reorganize their budgets.
“Studies show that putting more money in the classroom increases learning and knowledge in the students,” Wentworth said. “School should be concentrating more money on that than on collateral services. The more money put in classrooms, the more they are going to learn.”
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Legislature may take up schools again
“Any time the Legislature deals with education, it’s like pulling a thread in a sweater,” he said. “Everything they touch affects something else.”
Local educators also heard from Don Montgomery, State Board of Education representative for District 5, who encouraged them to value their contributions to society.
“You hear this all the time, but what you do is important. In fact, public education is the most important thing we do in this state,” he said.
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Friday, August 26, 2005 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 7A
Shot kills officer’s granddaughter
LANCASTER (AP) — A 4-year-old girl died after she was shot in the head in what police said appears to be an accident Thursday at the Lancaster home of her grandmother, a Dallas police officer.
Workers from KriewaldtTree Care use a crane and cherry picker to remove a large tree growing behind the sanctuary of First Protestant Church Thursday morning.
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Bond issue could bring rate back up
district’s fund balance savings, or reserve funds, by $886,726.
“It is remarkable that we are now able to do that,” said Trustee Bill Swint. “I hope the taxpayers recognize how important that is.” Administrators and trustees hope the money will end up as savings a year from now, but several budgetary moving targets might eat away at the budget surplus.
Budget Officer Tracie Moos reminded trustees state funding was still up in the air until legislators reached an agreement on school finance.
Transportation fuel costs also could exceed the budgeted amount, depending on how high gas prices get. Thanks to the district’s
Lancaster Police LL Joe Hall said investigators do not know whether the child got a hold of the semiautomatic handgun or whether it fell as she got into a bedroom closet She was home with her
ongoing growth, trustees were required to approve four new staffing positions.
Associate Superintendent Nancy Cobb told board members she only expected to fill one position immediately.
"We have budgeted for 13,100 students by October,” she said. “Today, we had 12,965 children in our classrooms. We only need one (position) now, but if that changes, we will be coming back to you to fill the others.”
Although trustees expressed satisfaction at giving taxpayers a 2-cent reduction in their tax rate for next year, they likely will ask for the money back almost immediately in a fall bond election.
The bond could include money for four new elementary schools, one new middle school and modifications to several existing campuses.
Costs for the new construction and remodeling, to be completed by 2009, could reach close to $157 million.
with Home Keo no mi.si Tai mra Dunean
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